The robots are indeed already taking our jobs, at least the job of Independence Day Parade grand marshal in the East Bay community of Concord. ABC 7 reports that an autonomous car was the grand marshal of Concord’s July 4 parade, as the Contra Costa County suburb rolled out the red carpet for our robot overlord a tiny red minibus with no driver’s seat or steering wheel.
"On the spirit of Independence Day, it helps provide independence in the future from your car," Contra Costa County Transportation Authority spokesperson Randy Iwasaki told ABC 7, using the kind of logic that associates President’s Day with mattress sales.
There is a connection between the city of Concord and self-driving cars, though not as strong as Fremont with its Tesla factory. Concord is home to something called the GoMentum Station, formerly the Concord Naval Weapons Depot and now one of ten sites in the U.S. where companies can test autonomous vehicles. This particular little red autonomous vehicle comes from a company called EasyMile, who describe themselves as “an electric shuttle dedicated to smart mobility designed to cover short distances and predefined routes in multi-use environments.”
Not everyone in Concord was pleased with the selection of a robot as the parade’s grand marshal. “I don’t know exactly what the grand marshal does,” Concord resident Kevin Pia told ABC 7. “What does the grand marshal do, anyway?”
In fairness, the self-driving car was not the parade’s only grand marshal. According to the Concord 4th of July Parade website, “Our Grand Marshal this year will be the Autonomous Vehicles from the GoMentum Station in Concord along with Children from Sun Terrace Elementary School's STEM Program.”